In Tom of Finland’s art, gay sexuality is shown in an affirmative, unapologetic manner even though it was created in a time well before homosexuality was accepted by mainstream culture. His pioneering work did this by presenting hyper-masculine men in homoerotic scenes. Tom took objects that had signified straight, masculine culture (such as military uniforms, lumberjack clothing, and leather biker outfits) and re-appropriated and re-claimed them in his work as a way of liberating gay men and creating a space for them to be sexual, confident beings.
Throughout his drawings, leather in particular appears again and again. His hunky men are often depicted in the gear of motorcyclists - leather jackets, boots, pants, and caps. Almost single-handedly, Tom is responsible for eroticizing this particular fashion and aesthetic. In the wake of his art, many gay men actually began to take their fashion cues from his men, following in the footsteps of Tom’s men. Leather bars began to sprout up in cities around the world, creating a whole new subculture.
As a result, in many ways Tom of Finland’s name is now synonymous with leather. And so it’s only fitting that the latest products in the Tom of Finland by Finlayson line are actually made from leather. These high-quality leather products, lined with Tom’s hunky men, subtly nod to that liberating leather culture which Tom of Finland helped to create. With these artfully designed leather products, Tom of Finland’s art continues its lasting influence.